‘Nornomania’ in the research on language in the Northern Isles

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‘Nornomania’ refers to the alleged obsession with the Scandinavian (‘Norn’) heritage in research on the dialects of Orkney and Shetland, as first addressed by Smith (1996). This paper explores the impact of a ‘Norn bias’ on dialect research devoted to the Northern Isles, from Jakobsen’s monumental investigation at the end of the 19th century to ongoing projects. Whereas the commitment to rescue and single out the Scandinavian element in Shetland and Orkney dialect has resulted in massive and valuable data collections, it has also, to some extent, flawed the analysis and presentation of the material. The ideal researcher of these dialects should, in fact, not only be well versed in Old Norse and Norwegian dialects but also in Scots.


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